Bubble Epic is a new Facebook offering from 6waves, and a new entry into the crowded bubble shooter genre. While the craze for the genre appears to be petering out — genre leader Bubble Witch Saga appears to have plateaued at approximately 18.2 million MAU — there is apparently still a desire to try and provide a new take on color-matching, bubble-popping gameplay.
Unfortunately, Bubble Epic does not provide that “new take.” Everything from its distinctly Bubble Witch Saga-esque aesthetic to its basic gameplay is very familiar. Players use their mouse to shoot colored bubbles from the bottom of the screen in an attempt to attach groups of three or more like-colored bubbles together. These then pop, and any bubbles beneath them which are no longer attached to the top of the screen will fall into some bins at the bottom of the screen, each of which is assigned a point value. In a slight twist on the usual formula, the value of said bins will gradually increase as the player builds up a combo, popping groups of bubbles one after another without any “wasted” shots — but if the player fires a bubble that does not create a match, their value will reset.
In order to complete a level, the player must pop at least ten bubbles on the top row, rather than removing all of them as in Bubble Witch Saga. At this point, any remaining bubbles fall into the bins, as do any bubbles the player has remaining in their ammunition bank. The player is then given a star rating according to how many points they scored in total — in order to pass the level, the player must attain at least one star.
As players progress through the game, they earn soft currency, which may be used to purchase powerups before each level. These include a package of five extra bubbles to use in the level, or starting with the bins upgraded to a higher value. During play, it is possible to use hard currency to acquire various other powerups to make life easier — or to add additional bubbles to the ammunition bank when the player gets low. There does not appear to be any means of acquiring hard currency except through in-game purchase.
The game also includes various collectible items such as keys and “heavenly drops.” The former are used to unlock chests, which contain slot machine minigames where players may win soft currency awards of varying sizes. The game does not do a particularly good job of immediately explaining what these collectible items are for, however — it sometimes takes several levels before a tutorial popup appears explaining exactly why the player would want to pursue them.
The biggest problem with Bubble Epic is that there is really no need for it to exist. It’s a beautifully-presented game with excellent graphics and sound, and a good implementation of per-level social leaderboards, but it does very little to distinguish itself in an already oversaturated genre. Given how late it has come out compared to previous successful bubble shooters, it feels more like 6waves releasing a game in this genre because they felt like they “should” rather than attempting to do anything new or fresh with it. While that doesn’t make it a bad game per se, it does make it a particularly unremarkable one, and as such there’s really nothing to see here for all but the most dedicated fans of bubble-popping.
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Despite immaculate presentation and solid gameplay, there is really no reason to check this game out in favor of the many other bubble shooters out there.